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home : opinions : our views August 22, 2017

3/22/2017 11:06:00 AM
One special town
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

I awoke early Saturday morning. I was too excited to sleep. I was going to do something I'd never done before. I was going to the Kohl Center to help cover the WIAA Boys State Basketball Tournament.
People who know me know I'm a bit of a Barneveld wannabe. My strong appreciation for the people, businesses, school and the Barneveld community as a whole began in my first year working at the Chronicle when one of my first projects was to tour communities across the county and find out what makes each one special. And boy, Barneveld sure stuck out as special to me.
Soon after I was tasked to cover the Barneveld School Board meetings the second Wednesday of each month. I learned more and more about this community "hub" and the wonderful people who work there, study there and support it. Learning about their technology program has been intriguing - it is second to none compared to schools in this area.
I still remember former Barneveld librarian Carrie Portz walking me through the bones of the Barneveld Public Library. She smiled as she pointed to each space, expanded greatly in size. I remember being at Botham Vineyards when the Frautschi brothers donated $600,000 to the library which happens to be in the community they spent time in with their grandparents.
I still tell everyone that I'm going to visit "the most beautiful library in the world" when I stop by.
For a novice reporter all those years ago, it was hard for me to imagine the devastation of a natural disaster destroying things in a community some had spent their whole lives building. But what wasn't hard for me to understand was the determination to rebuild, and to become stronger.
This past week, the strength and determination of the Barneveld community was once again tested. And you all rose to the occasion.
My heart raced as I walked onto the floor of the Kohl Center with my bosses, Pat and Mike Reilly. I felt honored that they would let me come - even if it was just to practice snapping some sports pics and provide live updates to our Chronicle Facebook page.
The last five minutes of the game went so fast - it's like a blinked and the game was over. Barneveld had won by 30 points! Later that night at the pep rally, Al Wright came up to me and told me something really special - the Eagles won Friday's game by 20 points, and the Saturday game by 30. If you add 20 and 30 together, you get 50, the number that graced the jersey of Jennifer Lease.
The electricity in the gymnasium that night was incredible. I felt the purple in my veins that day, and I couldn't stop smiling. I'm still smiling!
Barneveld, you are one special town.

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